Image Source: Getty / Taylor Hill
What you see in the photo above is a smiling Bridget Malcolm during the 2015 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, but what you can't see is a young woman battling the demons of the industry and struggling to accept her body. Now, the 26-year-old Australian model is opening up about how, after 12 years of disordered eating, she's given up dieting and has never felt so "free." In a post on her blog, Bridget shared that in August, she made a promise to herself "to make peace" with her body.
"I threw away my scales, my measuring tape and my body checking," she wrote in a post titled "My Road to Body Acceptance." "I threw away all my clothes from when I was at my smallest. I deleted all the gym selfies from my Instagram, and all of the 'progress' shots from my phone. Basically, I wanted no point of reference any more of a time when I was smaller or larger. I just wanted to stop looking in mirrors and telling myself that I was 'too fat' and 'not doing enough.' Easy to say, insanely hard to do. I was attempting to undo 12 years of being told to lose weight and 'tone up.'"
She realised it was time to treat her body well, stop limiting herself from the foods she loved, and stop skipping meals. It was time to stop feeling guilty for what she was putting into her body and instead eat to nourish her body and work out to feel strong.
In the photo above, Bridget recalls the pressure and comments she heard about her appearance. "This girl is not fat. I remember around when this photo was taken, I had been told that I needed to lose weight. Not for the first time and not for the last time. Always fun trying to act like you're confident and happy in swimwear when you're at war with your body."
Bridget was ready to change it all and give up dieting for good, but it didn't come easy. She struggled, but after a conversation with "a person who is much wiser than me," her journey was put into complete perspective.
"He has worked with me monthly since I was 21, has known me through all walks of my early adulthood, and he listened to me berate myself for an entire day," she wrote. "I was making excuses and trying to say that I will work harder and the next time he saw me I would be smaller. He looked at me, and said, 'You realise that everything you say, you become? In life we have the ego path, the easy, shady path, and the right, harder, harsher way.'"
She added, "It stopped me in my tracks. It makes sense, and I had heard it said before (and believed it cognitively), but at that point in time I was finally completely ready to hear it. And that was it. I looked at my life, and I realised through obsessing over my body I was selecting the easy path. I was choosing to focus on externality, and ignoring the larger picture. I was choosing the ego path."
For Bridget, the "ego path" meant learning to live her life without a love-hate relationship with food. It means ordering what she wants for dinner and enjoying it the way that food should be enjoyed — without guilt. "But most importantly, when I saw my body reflected back at me, I said nice things to myself. I chose to empower my self."
It may have taken some time, but she now understands that, as humans, we spend too much time focusing on our appearance and, in addition to being a waste of time, it's detrimental to our well-being.
"I am much freer now," Bridget wrote. And although she has gained weight since giving up dieting, she said, "I do not give a f*ck about it. My life is so much more than my jean size. And every day when that voice in my head tries to tell me I am worthless, it gets a little easier to shut it down. I am setting myself free slowly."